Evil West review | PC Gamer

  • November 21, 2022

Need for speed

What is it? A character action game set in a vampire-ridden wild west.
Expect to pay $50/£43
Developer Flying Wild Hog
Publisher Focus Entertainment
Reviewed on RTX 2070, i7-10750H, 16GB RAM
Multiplayer? 2-player co-op
Link Official site (opens in new tab)

Jesse Rentier is a no-nonsense action man; a stubbled slab of beef who sees every situation in black and white. He’s the type to remind you constantly that he’s not cut out for pencil pushing deskwork, as if you couldn’t tell by looking at him that he’d struggle to even hold a pencil without snapping it in half. In other words, he’s neither refined nor imaginative, but he is solid, focused and capable of magnificent violence. A description that equally applies to Evil West.

In an alternate late 19th century USA, Jesse is the top field agent at family business the Rentier Institute, an organisation established to combat a scourge of vampires that’s been nibbling on cowboys since the founding fathers. Given the sun-fearing nature of his foes, shootouts at high noon are off the table here, so Jesse heads out on expeditions to track down and smash the bloodsuckers to bits, along with their pet werewolves and other abominations they’ve manufactured. There’s more to the story than that, of course, explained in cutscenes sandwiched between the game’s sixteen missions, but walloping the undead is always your chief concern.

(Image credit: Focus Entertainment)

Indeed, Evil West adopts a ‘get on with it’ approach throughout. The main path connecting the game’s combat arenas is marked with a glowing silver chain to keep you oriented as you indulge in some very light exploration, ducking into half-hidden side passages to grab minor treasures. A few levels get a touch adventurous with more open, branching and looping sections, and sometimes you have to find a lever before advancing, or push a mine cart, or dislodge some scenery with your rifle, but very little that would qualify as a puzzle. In some ways that’s a blessing, as Evil West is less bloated than, say, God of War, but it also feels rather short on aspiration.

This conservatism infects Flying Wild Hog’s vision of the west too, which is strangely colourless aside from some striking landscapes, not to mention old-fashioned. The saloon bar that acts as a front for the institute’s base, for example, is filled with stock image (white) cowboys and courtesans, while ‘Indians’ feature only in passing reference to their mystic legends. Coupled with Jesse’s distaste for intellectual expertise, quips such as “Welcome to America” when he dispatches a foe, and a government official character who represents state corruption, there’s a somewhat politically regressive tinge to proceedings. Nor does the dialogue add nuance, as characters growl at each other in sentences laden with cringeworthy expletives. The aim is to evoke the vibe of macho ’80s action movies, but it’s a clumsy tribute act.

(Image credit: Focus Entertainment)

Assault and battery